MARCH 20, 2015
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Gold Dome Aftermath of Crossover Day in State Legislature - What's Next? (Issue 1 of 5)
About 250 of the more than 2,000 bills and resolutions introduced in the Legislature this session were passed in at least one chamber by Crossover Day, but some that weren't could still rise again before the session ends.

 
     
  Statement of Support for TNC Insurance Standards
(Issue 2 of 5)

Georgia Credit Union Affiliates sent a formal statement to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee in support of a bill that would clarify insurance issues involving transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft.

 
  Short on Time for State Legislature (Issue 3 of 5)
With only seven days remaining in this year's legislative session, lawmakers are working frantically to advance their bills, resulting in a heavy volume of hearings on numerous issues.

 
  U.S. Senate Committee Passes Cybersecurity Bill
(Issue 4 of 5)

The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence passed a bill promoting shared information on cybersecurity threats, on a voluntary basis and with personal information removed before sharing.

 
  Bills Introduced in Congress to Help Credit Unions
(Issue 5 of 5)

Two bills with potential benefits to credit unions - dealing with the regulatory examination process and loans on certain residential dwellings - were introduced in Congress.

 
 
 
Aftermath of Crossover Day in State Legislature - What’s Next? (Issue 1 of 5)

Capitol interiorShortly before 8:00 p.m. on Friday, March 13th the state Legislature closed the books on day 30, “Crossover Day,” the deadline by which bills must pass their originating chamber to have the ability to move forward in the final days of the session. To give one an idea of the volume this involves, as of day 30 state legislators had introduced more than 2,000 bills and resolutions. However, only a mere fraction of these were able to move through half of the legislative process - around 250 received a vote by that day.

But does this mean that all of these bills are dead? The word “vehicle” has more than one meaning in the state Legislature outside of the Motor Vehicle Committee - it’s a term used by legislators and lobbyists for bills that are similar enough in nature to be amended with language from another bill (or the entire bill itself!). It’s a proverbial “walking dead” at the Capitol as bills that should be long gone keep rising. As such, potential vehicles are identified and watched carefully to protect against unwanted amendments that could be detrimental to the operations of credit unions in Georgia. These range from attempts by condo associations to force foreclosing parties to pay back fees (an issue that the credit union lobbying team helped defeat in committee), attempts to alter the foreclosure process in Georgia, or changes that could inadvertently (or intentionally) impact the card operations in the state. However, these are just a few of the issues that the lobbying team spends hours advocating on credit unions’ behalf. Some of the Crossover Day activity included:

  • HB 299 by Rep. Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville) was one of the last bills to pass before the end of day 30. This bill seeks to outline in law the ability to charge a convenience fee on payments made by credit cards in certain circumstances. It is sought by those entities that fall under the Georgia Industrial Loan Act, and is being monitored closely as it could open up unwelcome amendments on fees, as well as state-level interchange attempts.
  • HB 322 by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) passed early on day 30, and seeks to address concerns surrounding abandoned properties by placing a $500 penalty for noncompliance of recording a deed after foreclosure (original penalty was $5,000, with the period in which to file the deed shortened from 90 to 60 days). There are some large out-of-state lenders that are not filing, which prompted the bill. However, the credit union lobbying team helped procure amendments to change the penalty time frame after foreclosure from “recorded” date to “filed,” and provide a grace period for inadvertent mistakes. In the evening hours of March 13th, Rep. Strickland shared with GCUA that he intends to keep these amendments intact as the bill travels to the Senate.
  • HB 153 by Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold) passed the House, and seeks to enforce the law requiring that only attorneys close real estate loans (directed at large out-of-state firms that close without an attorney). This bill continues to be analyzed to ensure that there are no changes that could impact credit unions.
  • SR 468 by Sen. PK Martin (R-Lawrenceville) was introduced to honor Peach State FCU President and CEO Marshall Boutwell, congratulating him on being honored with the Moses C. Davis Lifetime Achievement Award.

For additional information you can also follow the activity at the statehouse on Twitter, and access the bills monitored on behalf of credit unions here.

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Hailing a cabStatement of Support for TNC Insurance Standards (Issue 2 of 5)

On Monday, March 16th, the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates sent a formal statement of support to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee for HB 190 by Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna), which is one of several bills assigned to the committee for a hearing. HB 190 seeks to provide insurance standards for any Transportation Network Company (TNC), such as Uber and Lyft, that operates in Georgia. HB 190 would provide clarification of appropriate insurance parties and coverages, and help to protect consumers and collateral.

This bill is being pursued because if an individual operates his or her vehicle with a TNC as a ride-share car, it is a commercial activity, something typically not covered by personal insurance policies. It would be financially detrimental to an individual if they unexpectedly realize they do not have coverage AFTER an accident. But because HB 190 identifies the TNC as the provider of primary first-party coverage, the driver, as well as the collateral, would be covered at all times while operating in the TNC. Time is dwindling quickly, with lobbyists from Uber and Lyft working against the bill, so stay tuned!

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Short on Time for State Legislature (Issue 3 of 5)

ClocksIn the wake of the long hours on Crossover Day from last week, the state Legislature held only three session days this week, bringing the schedule up to day 33. However, with the shorter week, the level of hearings was significant as legislators are working frantically to move their bills forward. Next week the session will be in for five days, so watch for multiple hearings of interest to credit unions daily. As of press time the hearings are still in progress, but in addition to the above related bill activity some hearings of note to credit unions this week included:

  • The House Insurance and Labor Committee passed SB 88 by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) on Thursday, March 19th and it now awaits selection in Rules. This bill seeks to provide companies the option to pay employees with a payroll card, and the credit union lobbying team has actively worked with multiple interested parties to address issues. This bill opens up concerns regarding card and general noninterest account fees, as well as ensuring that there would be nothing that would prevent a person from having direct deposit with their credit union. It continues to be monitored to protect against unwanted amendments.
  • On Wednesday, March 18th the Senate Judiciary Non Civil Committee passed HB 233 by Rep. Alex Atwood (R-St. Simons Island). This bill seeks to create civil forfeiture standards, and retains a process by which financial institutions can recoup seized property.
  • On Tuesday, March 17th a Senate Finance subcommittee addressed HB 202 by Rep. Paul Battles (R-Cartersville), which is an overhaul of the ad valorem appeal process. This bill was addressed last year, but it failed to pass the Senate by the closing hours on the final day. It was reintroduced for this session, and contains the amended language pursued by the credit union lobbying team that clears up an issue that would have inadvertently required an appraisal before a foreclosure to record the fair market value. The bill is anticipated in another subcommittee hearing as of press time on Friday, March 20th.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee heard multiple issues on Wednesday, March 18th, including HB 51 by Rep. Tommie Benton (R-Jefferson), which seeks to prevent individuals from being forced to pay homeowner association fees (with no means of recourse) if purchasing a tax lien on a property. This legislation is monitored closely as it is a vehicle for homeowner associations’ superseding lien language to try to require foreclosing parties to pay past-due fees. In the hearing, HB 81 by Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) was suggested to be added into the bill completely. This bill seeks alter a nuance in law that allows other parties to purchase and redeem tax liens through a series of shell corporations to create a "super lien" status that is at the same level as a tax lien, thereby superseding the lien priority status of credit unions and other financial institutions. While HB 81 is not eligible to be considered on its own as it did not pass the House by Crossover Day, it is one of several bills seeking “vehicles.” Another hearing is pending as of press time.
  • The House Ways and Means subcommittee addressed three bills that they intend to keep working on over the summer: HB 356 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) boat-titling bill that seeks to implement a taxation and titling process for boats similar to the one that is in place with the TAVT system for autos, as well as HB 156 and HB 158 by Rep. Tom Rice (R-Norcross) to change the method by which motor vehicles are valued for taxation - something of interest to credit unions in determining used-auto values in lending.
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U.S. CapitolU.S. Senate Committee
Passes Cybersecurity Bill
(Issue 4 of 5)

A bill encouraging shared information on cybersecurity threats recently passed the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The act, introduced by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), promotes sharing information on potential cybersecurity threats, leaves it voluntary, and requires all personal information to be removed before the information is shared. If enacted into law, the bill would:

  • Direct increased sharing of classified and unclassified information about cyber threats with the private sector, including declassification of intelligence as appropriate; 
  •  Authorize private entities to monitor their networks or those of their consenting customers for cybersecurity purposes. Companies are authorized to share cyber threat indicators or defensive measures with each other or the government; 
  • Require the establishment of a capability at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as the primary government entity to quickly accept cyber threat indicators and defensive measures through electronic means;
  • Provide liability protection for companies' appropriate use of additional cybersecurity authorities. The monitoring of networks for cybersecurity threats is protected from liability, along with sharing information about cyber threats between companies consistent with the bill's requirements; and
  • Require reports on implementation and privacy impacts by agency heads, inspectors general and the Privacy Civil Liberties Oversight Board to ensure that cyber threat information is properly received, handled and shared by the government.
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CongressBills Introduced in Congress to Help Credit Unions
(Issue 5 of 5)

On March 18th, two bills that would be beneficial to credit unions were reintroduced in Congress:

  • Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Joe Manchin (D-WV)  reintroduced S. 774, intended to increase the consistency and fairness of the regulatory examination system today. The bill would make available to financial institutions the information used to make decisions in their examination; codify certain examination policy guidance, and establish an ombudsman at the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council with whom financial institutions could raise concerns with respect to their examinations.
  • Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) reintroduced the Credit Union Residential Loan Parity Act, which takes credit union loans on 1- to 4-unit, non-owner-occupied residential dwellings out from under the statutory cap on member business loans.
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